Soweto - Last year’s finalist, and number four seed, South African Izak van der Merwe worked his way to a tight 7-5 7-6 victory over Englishman Daniel Cox in his first round match at the Soweto Open at the Arthur Ashe stadium on Soweto on Monday.
Despite Van der Merwe’s straight sets victory, he came up against the powerful 20-year-old Cox.
"I actually had a pretty tough match, he played well and his serve was good." said Van der Merwe.
The first set went according to serve and it was five games all in the 11th game when Van der Merwe made his breakthrough. He raced to a 40-0 lead before Cox brought it back to 40-30. Both players exchanged some powerful groundstrokes in the next point until Cox sent a return narrowly wide. The fiery young Britain argued the call and looked clearly ruffled as he lost a crucial service game.
Van der Merwe said: "There were some tough calls, but that’s going to happen in every match and you have to deal with that. Maybe he got a little flustered in first set but he continued to play well so I don’t think it had an effect on the match."
Van der Merwe went on to serve out the set.
The second set included a number of breaks of serve and eventually went to a tiebreak. Van der Merwe, however, was too strong and won the tiebreak 7-3 to advance to the second round.
"I was glad to get this first win under the belt." said Van der Merwe.
The lanky 27-year-old was asked how he felt about coming into the tournament as a runner-up in last year’s event and was quite positive.
"There’s always a little pressure, but on the flipside I had success here last year so I can use that to my advantage. Hopefully I’ll get a little more momentum in the next match and just keep it going." added Van der Merwe.
In other first round men’s matches, South African Ruan Roelofse beat countryman Warren Kuhn 6-3 6-1. Number two seed, Gilles Muller of Luxembourg beat German Sebastian Rieschick 6-1 6-4.
In the women’s section, Czech number two seed Petra Cetkovska dismissed Anais Laurendon of France 6-3 6-3 and South African Madrie le Roux lost to Oksana Kalashnikova of Georgia in straight sets 6-2 6-1.
Results from the Soweto Open: 11 April 2011:
 Izak van der Merwe (RSA) bt Daniel Cox (USA) 7-5 7-6(3)
Ludovic Walter (FRA) bt Karan Rastogi (IND) 6-4 6-4
Rajeev Ram (USA) bt Amir Weinstraub (ISR) 6-2 7-6(8)
Jan Mertl (CZE) bt  Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 7-5 5-7 7-5
Ruan Roelofse (RSA) bt Warren Kuhn (RSA) 6-3 6-1
Greg Jones (AUS) bt Renier Moolman (RSA) 6-3 6-2
Sergei Bubka (UKR) bt Evgeny Kirillov (RUS) 6-2 6-4
 Gilles Muller (LUX) bt Sebastian Rieschick (GER) 6-1 6-4
Rik de Voest (RSA)/Izak van der Merwe (RSA) bt Chris Eaton (GBR)/Denys Molchanox (UKR) 6-1 6-3
Sanchai Ratiwatana (THA)/Sonchat Ratiwatana (THA) bt Mateusz Kowalczyk (POL)/Michal Przysiezny (POL) 6-4 7-5
 Dustin Brown (GER)/Raven Klaasen (RSA) bt Jeff Coetzee (RSA)/Ruan Roelofse (RSA) 7-6(5) 6-4
 Petra Cetkovska (CZE) bt Anais Laurendon (FRA) 6-3 6-3
Oksana Kalashnikova (GEO) bt Madrie le Roux (RSA) 6-2 6-1
Valeria Savinykh (RUS) bt  Eva Birnerova (CZE) 2-6 6-3 6-2
Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) bt Katie O’Brien (GBR) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-0
Erini Georgatou (GRE) bt Justyna Jegiolka (POL) 6-2 6-2
 Kathrin Woerle (GER) bt Nudnida Luangnam (THA) 3-6 7-5 6-4
Caglay Buyukakcay (TUR) bt  Anne Kremer (LUX) 6-3 2-6 6-2
Emily Webley-Smith (GBR) bt Naomi Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-4
Surina de Beer(RSA)/Chanel Simmonds (RSA) bt  Jessica Moore (AUS)/Noppawan Lertcheewakarn (THA) 2-6 6-2 11-9
 Nina Bratchikova (RUS)/Valeria Savinykh (RUS) bt Anais Laurendon (FRA)/Mandy Minella(LUX) 6-4 6-2
Eirini Georgatou (GRE)/Oskana Kalashnikova (GEO) bt Sarah-Lynn du Plessis (RSA)/Tegan Edwards (RSA) 6-1 6-1
Ana-Clara Duarte (BRA)/Teodara Mircic (SRB) bt Kim-Alice Gradjek (GER)/Justyna Jegiolka (POL) 6-1 6-4